It's open day on the campus - which means "high school" "juniors" and "seniors" are touring the campus. Generally, there are porters (guards) at the entrance to every building (this started just a few years ago) who raise eyebrows and ask for identification and purpose before allowing one entry. Since I don't yet have identification, this is a fantastic opportunity to go wandering…
|Engineering has a number of tag boards up with students wandering amidst. Since I never actually did a college visit, it's fun to see them all at it. Wandering outside and up a grassy knoll, I discover one life's little unfairnesses: their physics building is a "castle". Inside, though, I fail to discover the requisite vats of boiling oil and catapults; in fact, the tower doesn't even really seem accessible. But, as part of their promotional material, they're advertising a Joint Honours degree in Physics & Philosophy *joy*.|
|Naturally, there's some of the quirkiness we'd expect from those who study quarks. Sharks swimming in the ceiling and a dowsing rod to be used as a back-up if you "cannot find interstellar water with the 22GHz radio telescope" - the rod is "intentionally larger than usual to enhance its ability to detect water at astronomical distances".|
|Walking through an old cosmic-ray balloon launch-site, I discover they have a whole group devoted to studying the health effects of high-voltage transfer lines. On the right you'll see brain-shaped argon tubes lit solely by the electromagnetic fields of high-voltage power lines.|
When I was younger, my mother told me never to stare into the sun, but, going up on the roof, I find myself doing exactly that through a narrow-band telescope, which somehow makes it alright (sorry, Mom). 93 million miles away, 8 minutes in the past, a solar flare bursts from the sun's surface - a million degrees, ten Earths high, traveling at unbelievable speeds - it appears as a mere wisp of dark red. The science-guy next to me says it's the most exciting thing they've seen all day; it's strange how quickly one becomes desensitised to the glory of the universe.
View From The Physics Building
Swinging by the Philosophy Department (or do I?), I discover (but how do I know I've discovered?) that it's consumed (or has it?) an entire Victorian mansion (but what is a mansion?). I can't see through the windows (it's like a monad), but I can go inside (oddly enough), where, again, I find my free will reigned in (by some evil genius?). So reigned, there's a categorical imperative to advance down a hallway to the back of the house where they've built (assuming there's a past) a more-modern expansion (assuming there's anything at all). Along the way, there's a door: if the five people heading towards me go through first, I'll be offended, but, if I go through they'll be offended. The situation could be salvaged by shoving a fat man in the door so no one can pass through, but, intuitively, that's wrong. We take a utilitarian approach and I converse with a prof: trapped in the undecidability of a second-order language, I panic and try to add axioms, but he speaks the Goedel sentence and I find our conversations still incomplete. Trusting my emotions, I float out the window as a people-seed.
I swing by Well's Hall next. Designed in fourteen days with help from "the Almighty", it's the tower that I found myself heading for when I first arrived. Inside, it's spectacular… and home to the Earth Sciences department.
|After this, I sit in for a few minutes on the "come to our school" talk in the Great Hall, inhaling the bitter scent of my yogurt smoothie and thinking that I'm already here. I swing by the library before going back to work and fantasise about climbing around on the ceiling.|
|Arriving back at my building, I discover that Churchill had not only great strength of will, but great strength of body as well.|
Just down the hall from my work area there's a big room where they stash graduate students to ferment. After three or fours years, they take them out again and, if all's gone well, they've been converted from a pile of foot-stamped grapes into a fine wine. About fifteen people work in this room and they, along with those from another room, invite me out to dinner. So, in a large, turbulent group, we flow down the hillside to the ZeroDegree bar. Along the way, I make a discovery: there is one Australian, one Chinaian, one Englishian, and one Americian - the other fifteen or so are Italian. Oh, and the Chinese, Australian, and English fellows all know how to speak Italian.
It becomes late, though. As we leave I discover that this was the good-bye meal for a third or so of their two volleyball teams. Oh, the things I don't know. Afterwards, the walk home is long, but I find the right way the first time.